NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 4, 2005

Europe may be a great place to visit, but U.S. emigration to the continent is paltry -- while the reverse flow from Europe to the United States remains at consistently high levels, says Joel Kotkin, senior fellow with the New American Foundation.

As in the past, immigrants from Europe continue to come to America to participate in an economy that is more dynamic, healthier and generally more open than what they leave behind. Consider:

  • Europe's proportion of world gross domestic product dropped from 34 percent to 20 percent between 1913 and 1998, while the United States held its own at about 22 percent of global GDP.
  • Since the 1970s, America has created some 57 million new jobs, compared to just 4 million in Europe (with most of those jobs in government).

Under such circumstances, the United States remains a tremendous lure for many Europeans, especially younger, educated individuals, says Kotkin:

  • In technological fields, Europe's best brains are leaving in droves; some 400,000 EU science and technology graduates currently reside in the United States, and barely one in seven, according to a recent European Commission poll, intends to return.
  • With the exception of London, New York has an almost unparalleled global appeal for financial services; attempts to build a new European financial center in Frankfurt or Paris have failed to meet even modest expectations.
  • As for culture, Hollywood and the American music industry have long dominated European markets, despite massive government subsidies for the continent's culture-based industries; even the once-powerful European fashion industry has become more influenced by American designers and ideas.

All told, European immigration to the United States jumped 16 percent during the 1990s. Visa applications dropped after 9/11, but then increased last year by 10 percent, notes Kotkin.

Source: Joel Kotkin, "America Still Beckons," American Enterprise, October-December 2005.


Browse more articles on Government Issues